Iranian militias besiege a Russian convoy in Albu Kamal as tensions grow

Dec 01, 2020

Following the expulsion of ISIS from the city of Albu Kamal in Deir Ezzor governorate, the town on the Syrian-Iraq border has seen a growing presence of Iranian militias, who have imposed their full control there due to its vital geographical location on the road used by Iran’s forces in travelling to and from Syria via Iraq.

For the past few months, Russia has been trying to expand its regional sphere of influence in the Syrian-Iraqi border area at the expense of the Iranian militias, in line with Russia's plan to extend its control over strategic areas in Syria.

This conflict on the ground has manifested itself in more than one incident of tensions between the two sides, the latest of which was a few days ago, when Iranian militias stopped a convoy of Russian forces and prevented them from approaching the Syrian-Iraqi border.

Local sources in Albu Kamal told opposition news agency SY24 that a military convoy of Russian forces arrived in the city from the Al-Mayadeen desert, as part of the expansion of the areas under Russian militias’ control and, supposedly, to prevent successive attacks by ISIS in Syrian desert areas.

The sources told SY24, “The Iranian militias stationed in the desert near Albu Kamal stopped the Russian military convoy and prevented it from crossing, instructing to return to the Al-Mayadeen desert area, with the Iranian militias mobilizing their forces in the city of Albu Kamal and sending military reinforcements to the vicinity of the area where the Russian convoy stopped until the convoy was forced to withdraw from the area."

This is not the first outbreak of tensions between the two parties in the region, as Deir Ezzor has witnessed several incidents that revealed the size of the growing tensions between Tehran and Moscow as competition increases for influence over the resource-rich and geopolitically strategic city.

These developments come within the framework of a reported international agreement to curtail the Iranian regime’s role in Syria, with its growing presence there, seen in its militias' control of many areas, being viewed as a burden on the political process.

Russia has notably refrained from taking any action to stop Israeli airstrikes on Iranian militia forces in Syria or to stop ground attacks on the militias, purportedly carried out by ISIS, although the terrorist group had supposedly been eradicated in the area which is controlled by Iran, Russia and the US coalition. Russia has also taken control over several local militias that had been receiving financial and military support from Iran’s so-called ‘Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

Report via SY24
Original (in Arabic):

Photo from Call Syria shows Iranian-backed militias in Syria